Mozart: Il re pastore

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The opera is set in Sidon, Phoenicia, in 332 BC. Alexander the Great has just conquered the city, overthrowing the tyrannical usurper Strato. Before moving on to further conquests he determines to find Abdolonimo, the rightful heir to the throne, who has been brought up in humble obscurity, unaware of his true identity.

Act One
A wide pleasant landscape in the hills outside Sidon
Elisa excitedly tells her beloved Aminta that her mother finally supports their union, and she rushes off to see her father. Alexander interrogates Aminta and, impressed by his candour and nobility, is convinced that this shepherd really is Abdolonimo, the rightful heir to the throne. Agenore recognises his beloved Tamiri, Strato's daughter, who is now in hiding and disguised as a shepherdess, following Alexander's victory over her father. Agenore is unable to persuade Tamiri to reveal herself to Alexander, but vows to come back to her soon. To Tamiri's great joy and relief, he reassures her that he still loves her.

Elisa now returns to tell Aminta that her father has consented to their marriage, but before they can leave, Agenore arrives to proclaim that Aminta is the rightful king. Aminta and Elisa are astounded, and waver uncertainly between excitement and fear.

Act Two
Alexander's camp
Elisa is looking for Aminta, but Agenore prevents them from seeing each other. Alexander regrets not being able to forgive Tamiri publicly, and worries about the damage this will do to his reputation. When Agenore mentions that he knows where Tamiri is hiding, Alexander, blithely unaware of anyone's amorous attachments, decides that it would be a political masterstroke for Aminta to marry Tamiri; duty and honour prevent the horrified Agenore from protesting.

A large cave
Aminta is still unresolved as to whether to accept the throne, but when Agenore arrives he ambiguously declares that he has finally decided to fulfil his duty. For Aminta, this duty involves renouncing the throne and remaining true to Elisa, but Agenore assumes that Aminta has decided to become king and to take Tamiri's hand. He urges Aminta to take good care of his new bride, and Aminta, thinking he is referring to Elisa, assures him that he will always remain loving and devoted to her. Elisa is devastated when she hears that Aminta is to marry Tamiri, while Tamiri is appalled that Agenore could so readily give her up to someone else.

The outer courtyard of the Temple of Hercules in Sidon
As Alexander asks the gods to look favourably on his plans, Tamiri tells him of Agenore's sacrifice and of their love. Elisa likewise opens her heart to Alexander, imploring him to help. Aminta then arrives in his shepherd's clothes, renouncing his royal position in favour of his flock and marriage to Elisa. Alexander, moved by such courage and honesty, appoints Aminta and Elisa to the throne of Sidon, and promises Tamiri and Agenore another kingdom to rule. All ends happily.

Translations of the synopsis into Italian, French and German can be found in the 'Notes' section on the left hand menu.